Interview with JeanMarie Olivieri - Runner Up in the WOW! 2006 Flash Fiction Contest

Thursday, January 25, 2007

It's interviews like this that make our world go around. Not only did we enjoy reading JeanMarie's short story, but we loved learning about the fantastic woman behind the story. It seems that no matter what JeanMarie writes, her voice is fresh, unique, and full of truth -- a rare quality that we can all be inspired from.

WOW: The ending of your story sure packed a punch! We were surprised and didn't see that coming. That's always great when reading a short story. What inspired you to write, Pom and Circumstance?

JeanMarie: Well, I'm a lazy writer. I need to be prodded a bit. I have a writing buddy and we take turns coming up with story prompts but sometimes an outside source is the way to go. While surfing craigslist I saw an ad about the contest and went to the site. I was immediately inspired by the prompt, in particular the part about no return address label on the box, because to me it just fairly screamed "revenge!" Also it would give me a chance to go dark!

WOW: And it did get real dark there at the end, which came as a surprise! How much editing did you do to get your word-count down?

JeanMarie: Well, the story pretty much came to me whole, and I was fairly close to the word limit. Years and years of writing the company newsletter taught me to write-tight. However, I had two beta-readers tell me they didn't or couldn't believe a husband would leave his wife over cheerleading. That was where most of my editing time went. With only 500 words I can't change the mind of a reader who won't go along for the ride, but I can sway the one on the fence! I felt it worked out well because addressing that issue gave me a stronger finish.

WOW: That's interesting that you say that, because that was one of the points that hit us while we were reading it (about the husband leaving her because of cheerleading), but by the time we got to the end, we thought, Whoa... what a knockout!

In your bio you mentioned that you're an unemployed technical writer. How long did you work in that field?

JeanMarie: I worked for a company in Colorado for 10 years as a technical writer. Then in 2005 I relocated to North Carolina and I worked a few short-term writing contract jobs.

WOW: Can you tell us what types of projects you worked on, and how you found the experience?

JeanMarie: Working long term for one company gave me opportunities to do some different things, including training, and some fun special projects. However, the bulk of the work was newsletters, reports, minutes, work instructions a.k.a.standard operating procedures (SOPs), reports, and, YAWN, SOPs. The bulk of my contract experience involved editing SOPs.

WOW: You're making my head hurt! It seems like a lot of tedious work. So, how has the new career search been going for you?

JeanMarie: Well, I'm still looking for a career, but I did find a job! I realized that when I relocated across the country, I changed everything about my life except my career. I really don't know what I want to do but I'm done with technical writing - at least for a little while. I just started mid-January as an Administrative Assistant. It's not my dream job but I'm going to hang out for a while and see where I want to go from here.

WOW: Well, we wish you the best of luck, and hope that you continue writing fiction. Speaking of that, you have any new fiction projects in the works?

JeanMarie: Technically.... No. But I am mulling over a story about a cardboard box that crosses the country multiple times as it is given away from one moving customer to another.

WOW: That's an interesting concept... I could see that being a great film as well. (Special Note: JeanMarie's copyright pending!) So, do you have any other writing goals for the new year?

JeanMarie: I want to enter another WOW contest! Actually, I tend to write more non-fiction and poetry than fiction and I have some ideas brewing in those directions.

WOW: We'd love it if you entered another contest! Or perhaps, you may consider submitting a non-fiction article to us? But whatever you decide to do, we encourage you 100%!

So overall, how has entering the WOW! Fall 2006 Flash Fiction Contest been for you?

JeanMarie: Wonderful! It was just the antidote to a year filled with rejection (employment) and endless resume rewrites. Also, as soon as I saw the results of the contest posted online, I sent out an email announcement to my friends who were appropriately impressed!

WOW: As they should be JeanMarie. We admire your spirit, and the way you stuck to your guns about your piece. Writing groups and writing partners are wonderful (and we do advocate them in all ways), but it's always up to the writer to decide which advice to take and which to, ahem, recycle. Thanks for being yourself and bringing us into your life. We hope that you check in with us from time-to-time and let us know how your writing career is going.

If you haven't done so already, you can read JeanMarie's short story, Pom and Circumstance HERE.


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